Samsung to expand retail presence in US

Samsung looks to establish a physical presence in thousands of retail stores in the US

Samsung is making an aggressive sales push in the U.S. market by expanding into thousands of third-party retail outlets where dedicated staff will sell and provide advice on the company's smartphones, tablets and entertainment products.

Samsung has established "pop-up" stores in the past and had a full-scale outlet in New York that was ultimately shut down. A part of the new expansion plan includes retailer Best Buy, which on Monday announced that it would establish a special zone in its 1,400 U.S. retail stores to sell Samsung products.

The company already has authorized resellers, and the Best Buy partnership is an effort to give users a hands-on experience with its products, said Tim Baxter, CEO of Samsung Electronics America, during an event in New York on Wednesday morning to announce the Samsung and Best Buy partnership.

Providing a hands-on experience is a "vital" part of getting users to buy Samsung products, Baxter said.

Also, mobile computing is headed in a direction where tablets, smartphones and other devices such as TVs are able to easily interact with each other. A larger in-store presence will educate users on how these products work together, Baxter said.

Baxter declined to say if Samsung would open its own stores in key locations, but said that the company would partner with more retailers. Samsung spends US$8 billion to $9 billion on product research every year, and a larger retail presence will also help understand product trends in the U.S., Baxter said.

The U.S. is a key market for Samsung, and the company believes it can grab a larger share in smartphones, tablets and PCs through a larger in-store presence. Samsung's smartphone rival Apple already has a large retail presence where customers can buy products and get support.

The Best Buy stores will have sales staff trained by Samsung to provide advice on products and support, Baxter said.

Best Buy already has a similar partnership with Apple for 700 stores. The retailer has signed a three-year agreement with Samsung, and will dedicated store space to sell Samsung products.

However, in the case of a shattered screen on a Samsung smartphone, the sales staff will likely redirect customers to Best Buy's Geek Squad or Samsung's support number. Samsung officials at the event dodged questions on whether the Best Buy staff would provide live support similar to services rendered in Apple stores at the Genius Bar.

Samsung had a 21.3 percent share in the U.S. smartphone market for the three months ending in February, according to a Comscore study released this month. Samsung was behind the top-ranked Apple, which had 38.9 percent U.S. market share.

Tags distributionconsumer electronicshardware systemsSamsung Electronicstablets

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Agam Shah

IDG News Service

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